Varanasi: The dead have to literally wait here as rising flood waters are delaying the process of cremation at the two main burning ghats on the banks of the Ganga — Manikarnika and Harishchandra.
People are made to wait for hours to perform the last rites of their loved ones as the rain-swollen river has submerged most of the ghats in the temple town, including the area earmarked for cremation at Manikarnika ghat. Cremation ceremonies are taking place in the alleys adjacent to the river or on the terraces of the 'havelis' due to lack of space, said officials.
Assi and ashashwamedh ghats have been flooded and the famous 'Ganga arti' is being performed in the alleys leading up to these places. The rising river has submerged numerous residential colonies, forcing the people to leave their homes and take shelter at relief camps.
The situation has affected a large number of people in Varanasi and Ballia districts, prompting Varanasi District Magistrate VK Anand to order closure of schools for three days from August 23-25.
Heavy rains temporarily affected train movement on the Varanasi-Mughalsarai route yesterday due to a disruption at bridge number 23, passing over the Chowkaghat-Varuna drain. The trains had to be diverted on the adjacent tracks and repair work was being carried out by the Railways, said officials.
Divisional Commissioner Nitin Ramesh Gokarn has been inspecting the affected areas of Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur and Ghazipur districts and ensuring that medicines are distributed among the people and they are safely shifted to the relief camps. In Ballia, heavy vehicle movement has been stopped on the Manjhi bridge which connects the district with Chapra in Bihar due to the rising water level. Nearly 200 villages in Varanasi, 230 in Ghazipur, 115 in Chandauli, 125 in Ballia, 300 in Mirzapur, 20 in Bhadohi, 12 in Jaunpur, 11 in Azamgarh and seven in Mau in the eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh have been affected, said officials.